US bars entry of new foreign students for all-online courses

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The United States federal immigration officials on Saturday have announced that new international students will be prohibited from entering the country if they plan to take their classes entirely online this fall.

In a memorandum issued to college officials, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said, “New students who were not already enrolled as of March 9 will likely not be able to obtain visas if they intend to take courses entirely online”.

The rules apply to “nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9″ under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), ICE wrote on its website.”Additionally, designated school officials should not issue a Form I-20 to a nonimmigrant student in new or initial status who is outside of the US and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online,” it said

This order will primarily affect new students hoping to enroll at universities that will provide classes entirely online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

International students who are already in the US or are returning from abroad and already have visas will still be allowed to take classes entirely online, according to the update, even if they begin instruction in-person but their schools move online in the face of a worsening outbreak, an Al Jazeera report stated.

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